30 November to 5 December 2024
Led by David Lindo In association with Bird’s Wildlife & Nature
Serbia has rapidly become one of the most talked about birding destinations in Eastern Europe. Why? Because, it is officially the best place in the world to see Long-eared Owls. Indeed, it is the best place on the entire planet to see Long-eared Owls in unimaginable numbers!
The great thing about this popular trip is that there is very little walking involved. Plus, we will never be too far away from a cup of coffee or thick hot chocolate because most of our birding will be urban based.
We guarantee that you will leave Serbia beaming!
We will see owls from the windows of our hotel and just about anywhere else in the picturesque small town of Kikinda where we will be based during this exciting short getaway. Our small boutique hotel is situated right in the heart of the owl action. The main square has been declared by the local government as a nature reserve and holds huge gatherings of Long-eared Owls – which can peak at over 800 individuals during some years. Over the ensuing days we will spend our time exploring some of the towns and surrounding areas looking for owls, Great Grey Shrikes, White-tailed Eagle as well as wintering flocks of Common Cranes and White-fronted Geese. There is also the possibility of finding the majestic though sadly endangered Saker Falcon or a wintering Eastern Imperial Eagle.
Pygmy Cormorant, Great Egret, White-fronted Goose, Ferruginous Duck, Smew, White-tailed Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Peregrine, Merlin, Caspian Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Long-eared Owl, Barn Owl, Little Owl, Short-eared Owl, Syrian Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Marsh Tit, Penduline Tit, Bearded Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Grey Shrike, Common Raven and Hawfinch.
Plan to arrive by the afternoon into Nikola Tesla International Airport (Airport code: BEG) Belgrade, Serbia after which you will be met and transferred to our hotel in the City Center.
Our tour will start with dinner this evening.
Overnight in Belgrade
Note: aim to arrive by the late afternoon at Belgrade airport. See flight information at the end of the itinerary for more details.
There is also an option to arrive a day earlier (Friday 29 November) in order to enjoy a cultural tour of Belgrade on the morning of Saturday 30 November. Please let us know if you are interested in this option.
Today after breakfast we will depart Belgrade and make our way towards Kikinda – the Owl Capital of the World. Of course, there will be stops along the way and we may start with a quick look at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers right in the centre of Belgrade. We can see both Great and Pygmy Cormorants, Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls, Great Crested Grebe, Common Pochard and sometimes Smew while the surrounding trees can hold Western Jackdaw both Great, Syrian and the occasional Black Woodpeckers or maybe a group of Hawfinch. Moving on and literally just on the outskirts of the city we will pass by a small canal where we can get our first close up views of Pygmy Cormorants alongside numerous Grey Herons eagerly eyeing up their breakfasts.
A little further on we will arrive at a large fish pond that is surrounded by reeds. More Pygmy Cormorants will greet us joined by Great Cormorants allowing for good comparisons while among the gull flocks we will try and find some Caspian Gulls mixed in with the devilishly similar Yellow-legged Gulls. Tree Sparrows will be easily seen and while watching the lake we can search for ducks that may include Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal, Common Shelduck and possibly something like Smew or Ferruginous Duck. As we keep looking up, we could see skeins of White-fronted and Greylag Geese and this is also a regular place to spot our first White-tailed Eagle. Among the reed-beds the ringing call of Bearded Reedlings may draw our attention and further searching could find us both Penduline Tit and Reed Bunting. After the excitement of this wonderful place, we will continue our journey to the small town of Kikinda and possibly our first Long-eared Owls in the few trees right outside the hotel.
Overnight in Kikinda
Today will be surely one of those days that everyone holds in anticipation!
We will start our morning in Kikinda Square right outside the hotel which conveniently has a coffee shop. The focus will be Long-eared Owls and it shouldn’t take us long to locate our first tree with roosting birds. The spectacle of the number of birds can be astounding. Up to 150 Long-eared Owls have been counted in one tree in the town centre and the total number of roosting owls in the town square in winter in a good year can be upwards of 800!
Even in a poor year there are still several hundred to be found. The birds can be anywhere and everywhere – in the churchyard, in the trees along the main street and in the trees around cafes. The spectacle is incredible and should offer excellent owl watching and photographic opportunities. Once we’ve seen the owls, we will also take in some of the cultural delights, architecture and cuisine that the town has to offer before visiting a few other sites in the vicinity for more Long-eared Owls, Little Owl, Syrian Woodpecker, Black Redstart and Hawfinch.
After breakfast, and of course a check on the owls outside hotel, we will spend some time in villages with yet more Long-eared Owls. We are sure to be distracted by flocks of Common Cranes and White-fronted Geese flying overhead and Black Restarts calling from the rooftops.
Our destination today is Kapetanski Rit Wetlands which is 80km NW of Kikinda. With 179 acres of designated wetland the area is rich source of biodiversity. Here we will look for more views of Pygmy Cormorant, White-tailed Eagle, Hen and Marsh Harrier, Great Egret, gulls, waders and both Bearded Reedling and Penduline Tit.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we will explore several landscapes for owl species including Long-eared, Short-eared, Little and Barn Owls while also looking in the old trees for Great and Syrian Woodpeckers, Brambling, Hawfinch and anything else that might appear. We will eventually return to Kikinda in time for dinner.
Overnight in Kikinda
Today we will spend the day at Carska Bara Nature Reserve, the largest individual bog in Serbia. The entire system consists of three ponds (Carska, Perleska and Tiganjica) connected by the 8 km (5.0 mi) long canal. This protected wetland consists of many smaller bodies of water, including rivers, canals, lakes and ponds, covered with reed beds, willow thickets and rushes and it is known for its colour diversity. Blue clear water, white and yellow Salt Marsh and brown and green woodlands. There are some 500 plant species registered in the reserve, including many rare or protected species. Around 24 species of fish live here along with amphibians and reptiles making it an ideal hunting ground for waterbirds and raptors. The reserve itself is best known for its abundant birdlife.
Some 50,000 Greater White-fronted Geese spend December-January each year in Carska Bara and careful searching may turn up rarities such as Lesser White-fronted Goose or the beautiful Red-breasted Goose. Among the assembled ducks should be Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler and Eurasian Wigeon and maybe a Ferruginous Duck or Smew. White-tailed Eagles, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Merlin, Peregrine, Common Buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk patrol the area and both Pygmy Cormorant and fields full of Common Cranes can be present. Surrounding bushes, scrub and fields can hold Brambling other finches, pipits, Reed Bunting, Great Grey Shrike and Fieldfare. So, there will be plenty to keep us busy. Later we will return to Belgrade after stopping in Novi Sad in time for our final dinner and to review our highlights.
Overnight in Belgrade
Today, you will be transferred to Nikola Tesla International Airport (Airport code: BEG) Belgrade, in time for our international departing flights home.
You may book a flight to depart at any time today, but note our tour finishes with breakfast today.
Click on the booking form above to reserve your place on this tour. You will be re-directed to the birdswildlife.com website.